What Kind Of Arthritis Do You Have
Contrary to popular belief, arthritis itself is not a single disease, but a classification of conditions that affect the joints and surrounding areas.
In fact, there are more than 100 types of arthritis with different causes, symptoms, and effective treatment plans.
How Doctors Diagnose Arthritis Hand Pain
To determine whats behind your hand pain, your doctor will rely on your medical history, a physical exam, and imaging and blood tests to make a diagnosis and determine what kind of arthritis hand pain you have.
Feeling a patients joints during the exam can help differentiate between OA and inflammatory arthritis, Dr. Byram says. The swelling feels harder in those with OA because extra bone at the joints, called osteophytes, forms over time. The swelling in RA and other inflammatory disease feels softer.
Imaging tests, such as X-rays or an MRI, can reveal joint erosion and osteophytes and loss of cartilage .
If your doctor suspects inflammatory arthritis, they will also order blood tests to detect the presence of certain antibodies, such as rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP, that help identify RA and other types of inflammatory arthritis.
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General Joint Pain And Stiffness
In addition to morning joint stiffness, you may also experience general joint stiffness throughout the day, especially after a period of inactivity.
Some of the first areas RA stiffness typically affects are the wrists and certain joints in the hands and feet, but its also possible to experience pain and stiffness in your knees or shoulders. Usually, both sides of your body will be affected.
Gout And Calcium Crystal Diseases
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can cause painful swelling in joints. It typically affects the big toe, but it can also affect other joints in the body.
Joints affected by gout can become red and hot. The skin may also look shiny and can peel.
Its caused by having too much urate, otherwise known as uric acid, in the body. We all have a certain amount of urate in our body.
However, being overweight or eating and drinking too much of certain types of food and alcoholic drinks can cause some people to have more urate in their bodies. The genes you inherit can make you more likely to develop gout.
If it reaches a high level, urate can form into crystals that remain in and around the joint. They can be there for a while without causing any problems and even without the person realising they are there.
A knock to a part of the body or having a fever can lead to the crystals falling into the soft part of the joint. This will cause pain and swelling.
There are drugs that can reduce the amount of urate in the body and prevent gout attacks. Examples are allopurinol and . If youre having a gout attack, youll also need short-term pain relief. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as well as paracetamol can be good drugs to try first.
Men can get gout from their mid-20s, and in women its more common after the menopause. Taking water tablets can increase the risk of gout.
There are also conditions that cause calcium crystals to form in and around joints.
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Its Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
You want to stay active and avoid pain, right? Then dont delay seeking treatment for joint problems likeosteoarthritis. Your doctor can help you avoid permanent joint damage and other serious health issues.
So, what joint symptoms are a sign for you to call your doctor for an evaluation?
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What Are The Parts Of A Joint
Joints get cushioned and supported by soft tissues that prevent your bones from rubbing against each other. A connective tissue called articular cartilage plays a key role. It helps your joints move smoothly without friction or pain.
Some joints have a synovial membrane, a padded pocket of fluid that lubricates the joints. Many joints, such as your knees, get supported by tendons and ligaments. Tendons connect muscles to your bones, while ligaments connect bones to other bones.
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What Symptoms Look And Feel Like And What To Do If You Cant Shake The Ache
by Michelle Crouch, AARP, February 18, 2020| 0
En español | Its not unusual to experience pain in your joints on occasion, especially if youre active and participate in high-impact activities such as running. That unwanted ouch can be caused by injured muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joint, by tendonitis or by a sprain or a strain.
But if you start experiencing aching, pain and stiffness on a routine basis and particularly if the pain is right at the joint you may be developing arthritis, says rheumatologist Uzma Haque, codirector of clinical operations at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center in Baltimore.
The cardinal feature of arthritis is a swollen joint, Haque says. However, pain, discomfort and stiffness can be early signs.
Haque recommends paying attention to what triggers your symptoms: If you walk a block and consistently have aching in your right knee, but it improves when you sit down, thats when you should think, Do I need a medical evaluation?
And yes, you might need to book that appointment even if youre well under 50. Arthritis doesnt only affect older people. Although your risk increases as you age, more than half of arthritis patients are younger than 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Its a leading cause of disability in the U.S., affecting around 54 million people.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Neck
Surprisingly, many people do not experience any symptoms of arthritis. Those who do, however, may experience the following symptoms:
- numbness or weakness of the arms, hands, legs, or feet
- sensations of grinding or popping while turning the neck
- loss of bowel or bladder control
- lack of coordination
- fatigue and/or trouble sleeping
These arthritis symptoms could last for several months or become chronic over time.
With rheumatoid arthritis, you may also experience stiffness in the hands and wrists, particularly in the morning after waking up, Dr. Shah notes.
Ankylosing spondylitis may affect the back and hips, again with symptoms worse after waking up, he says.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Spinal Arthritis
Symptoms of spinal arthritis may differ from person to person. In general, they may include:
Back and neck pain, especially in the lower back
Stiffness and loss of flexibility in the spine, such as being unable to straighten your back or turn your neck
Swelling and tenderness over the affected vertebrae
Feeling of grinding when moving the spine
Pain, swelling and stiffness in other areas of the body
Whole-body weakness and fatigue
Pain and numbness in your arms or legs if the nerves are affected
Although back pain is a common symptom, not all people have it, even those with advanced spinal arthritis. On the other hand, some may experience pain even before arthritis can be seen on an X-ray.
In certain types of spondyloarthritis, eye inflammation may occur, causing pain, watery eyes and blurred vision.
Yes Your Neck Pain Could Be Arthritis
No matter where it occurs in the body, arthritis can be a real pain. One type, which goes by the name cervical spondylosis, can leave you with a stiff neck or major aches.
Often a side effect of aging, arthritis in the neck occurs when the discs, joints, and bones of the neck naturally deteriorate.
While you cant stop the aging process, you can take steps to delay its effect on the neck.
And if you do develop arthritis in the neck, you can often find relief from at-home treatment plan that includes medication, icing or heating, and/or physical therapy.
Heres what to know about arthritis in the neck, including the risk factors, treatments, and how to prevent it.
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How Is Spinal Arthritis Diagnosed
Your doctor may use some or all of the following diagnostic methods to confirm spinal arthritis:
Medical history and physical exam
Blood tests for genetic markers and/or RA antibodies
X-rays of the spine to locate the arthritic joint
MRI, CT scan, myelography, bone scan and/or ultrasound to zero in on the damage, detect nerve and spinal cord involvement or rule out other causes
Joint aspiration: testing of the synovial fluid inside a joint
To pinpoint the painful joint, your doctor may numb it with an injection and check whether the pain goes away.
What Is The Difference Between A Rheumatologist Vs An Orthopedist
If youre experiencing joint pain, you want to know where to go to seek relief. Joint pain can be debilitating, making even the most ordinary everyday tasks unbearable, making it an urgent problem to get treated. But who is the best specialist to treat your joint pain: a rheumatologist or an orthopedist? While there is overlap between rheumatology and orthopedics specialists , its important to understand the core differences between these 2 specialties to make an informed decision about which provider would be best for you.
The main difference between rheumatology and orthopedics is that orthopedists are surgical specialists, whereas rheumatologists are medical specialists who use medication and other nonsurgical treatments. If youre unaware of which specialist would be best for your medical condition, its wise to seek the guidance of your primary care provider to guide you in the right direction.
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The Importance Of Diagnosing The Right Condition
When it comes to initial symptoms, people tend to self-treat before consulting a doctor. Perhaps no harm comes from taking a stab at self-treatment, but theres likely no significant benefit either. Typically, people try common over-the-counter treatments, hoping something will make a difference. Many people who choose to self-treat find that symptoms persist. They realize they are treading water, if not getting worse, without doctors input. Others continue to self-treat or just live with their symptoms, risking the consequences that come from delaying appropriate treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that while more than 10 million Americans have chronic joint symptoms, most have not been evaluated or treated by a doctor. Of the 2.2 million people believed to have rheumatoid arthritis in the U.S., more than 700,000 have not been diagnosed or treated. Of the 1.5 million who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, more than 800,000 are under the care of a primary care physician, not a rheumatologist .
Few joints may be involved in the initial consultation with a doctor. There may not be much revealed when results come back from blood tests or X-rays. But your doctor will order more extensive tests until a diagnosis can be made.
When Should You See A Rheumatologist
As the name implies, systemic autoimmune conditions can affect organs and areas throughout your body, leading to a variety of symptoms.
These encompass a broad spectrum of conditions that can affect different organ systems, including your musculoskeletal system, skin, kidneys, lungs, nervous system and more with the joints being the most commonly affected, says Dr. Ganti. Wherever the immune system is attacking, specifically, is where you will notice the symptoms.
The common symptoms of systemic autoimmune conditions include:
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in more than one joint
If you notice any of these symptoms, start by consulting your primary care doctor.
Your doctor can help distinguish if a symptom like joint pain is non-inflammatory and therefore more likely caused by osteoarthritis, or if its accompanied by other systemic symptoms that may indicate an inflammatory, autoimmune condition, says Dr. Ganti.
In this case, a basic panel of blood tests that look for markers of inflammation will likely be ordered. From there, your doctor will determine whether you need to be referred to a rheumatologist for further evaluation.
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Spinal Arthritis: What You Need To Know
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to affect the spine.
Arthritis can occur anywhere along the spine, but is more frequent in the lower back and neck.
Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis.
Causes of spinal arthritis are still largely unknown except for osteoarthritis, which is typically a result of wear and tear.
Spinal arthritis treatment may include pain medications, steroid injections, physical therapy and surgery in severe cases.
Do Certain Types Of Weather Make Arthritis Worse
Some people find that arthritis feels worse during certain types of weather. Humidity and cold are two common triggers of joint pain.
There are a variety of reasons why this might happen. People tend to be less active in rainy seasons and the wintertime. The cold and damp can also stiffen joints and aggravate arthritis. Other theories suggest that barometric pressure, or the pressure of the air around us, may have some effect on arthritis.
If you find that certain types of weather make your arthritis worse, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to manage your symptoms. Dressing warmly, exercising inside or using heat therapy may help relieve your pain.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints. There are many types of arthritis, all of which can cause pain and reduce mobility. Some forms of arthritis result from natural wear and tear. Other types come from autoimmune diseases or inflammatory conditions. There are a variety of treatments for arthritis, ranging from physical or occupational therapy to joint surgery. Your healthcare provider will assess your symptoms and recommend the right treatment plan for your needs. Most people can successfully manage arthritis and still do the activities they care about.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/15/2021.
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Effects On Your Daily Life
- See a doctor or other relevant healthcare professional if youre unable to do everyday tasks due to joint or muscle pain.
- If youve lifted something heavy and hurt your back, for example, take some painkillers, apply some heat and try to stay active. If the pain doesnt ease after a couple of weeks or so, see a doctor.
Its important to see a doctor if you get any new symptoms or if you have any trouble with drugs youre taking.
If you have an appointment with a doctor, to help make sure you get the most out of it, you could take a list of questions with you and tick them off as they are discussed.
You could also keep a symptoms diary with details of how youre feeling in between appointments. Some people find that taking a friend or relative with them to an appointment can provide support and ensure that all important points are discussed.
What Do Rheumatology Doctors Do
Rheumatologists are experts in the treatment of inflammatory autoimmune disorders. These conditions, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, involve the patients immune system attacking its own healthy body tissue rather than invading external disease agents. Your primary care provider may refer you to a rheumatologist if you experience joint pain, especially if there was no prior injury. If your joint pain is accompanied by fatigue, fever, rash, or stiffness, it could also indicate an inflammatory disorder. Sometimes abnormal blood test results can also indicate a rheumatic illness.
What Conditions Does a Rheumatologist Treat?
Rheumatologists specialize in treating arthritis, musculoskeletal conditions, and autoimmune diseases. There are countless conditions that impact the joints, bones, ligaments, and various other tissues. Its common for rheumatic conditions to be difficult to diagnose, so rheumatologists use their expertise to both diagnose and treat patients.
Here are a few common conditions that rheumatologists treat however, this list is certainly not comprehensive:
- And several more
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When You Know You Have The Right Match
Traci Lynn Martin, a neonatal ICU nurse and expedition kayaker from Lees Summit, Missouri, found out she had rheumatoid arthritis, she went to a few rheumatologists before she found the right chemistry.
The first person I saw I didnt like, Martin says, because I didnt feel like he was listening to me. He had a formula with questions and it wasnt personalized. It was important for me to stay active, to be able to do my triathlons, and long distance kayaking that I had done my whole life.
Friends referred her to other specialists, but she knew right away when she found the right rheumatologist. He sits down and doesnt rush in and out and doesnt leave the room until I am happy, Martin says. I walked out of there so happy after the first visit, I felt like I had someone who was listening to me for the first time since my diagnosis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis In The Neck
This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. If you have it, your immune system will attack and destroy the lining of the joints.
The disease ususally first appears in the hands, knees, feet, and ankles, progressing to the neck.
This results in increased inflammation at the joint, and the bodys response to that inflammation comes in the form of pain and stiffness, says Rahul Shah, MD, a board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon at Premier Orthopaedic Spine Associates in Vineland, New Jersey. With this type of arthritis, the hands are likely to be affected, as well as the upper portions of the neck.
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